11-26-21 Messenger-Inquirer Basketball Preview

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A Special Publication of the Messenger-Inquirer • Friday, November 26, 2021

2021-22

BASKETBALL PREVIEW AREA SCHOOLS SCHEDULES & PRESEASON ANALYSIS

Built on Tradition Muhlenberg County coach Kyle Eades and his senior class are looking to successfully defend their 3rd Region championship and continue the county’s longtime success in high school basketball. Pictured are Muhlenberg County High School boys basketball seniors, from left to right, Brayden Lovan, Davion Summers, Cole Vincent, Dylan Niemi, Trey Lovell, Donovan McCoy, Asher Carver and head coach Kyle Eades. Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer


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Continuing the Tradition Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

Eades a caretaker of Muhlenberg’s rich tradition BY JIM PICKENS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

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fter more than a decade without a trip to the KHSAA Boys’ State Basketball Tournament, Muhlenberg County returned to Lexington’s Rupp Arena last April after an impressive three-game run through the 3rd Region Tournament at the Owensboro Sportscenter. For a proud, coal-country community that has historically valued the hoops sport as much as any in the commonwealth, the moment was about as sweet as it could get. “It was a very exciting time,” said the coach of the victorious Mustangs, Kyle Eades, who, more than most, understands and appreciates the county’s rich roundball history. “It provided our community something to rally around at a time when we all really needed it. “Our fans and support system were fantastic. There were times, especially as we advanced deeper into the postseason, that our players were really able to feed off their energy and enthusiasm.” Led by senior guard and leading scorer Nash Divine (16.7 ppg), the Mustangs won 19 of 21 games. Muhlenberg lost only to Hopkinsville during the regular season and carried a 16-game winning streak into its Sweet 16 matchup with 9th Region champion Highlands, falling 88-60. It was Muhlenberg County’s first trip to the boys’ state tournament since the first year of the school — 2009-10 — when coach Reggie Warford, a former star player at Drakesboro High School, directed the fledgling Mustangs. But that’s just recent history. In 1990, seven county high schools — Muhlenberg Central, Central City, Bremen, Graham, Drakesboro, Hughes Kirk, and Greenville — consolidated into Muhlenberg North and Muhlenberg South high schools. A Tony Hopper-coached Muhlenberg North squad reached the state tournament semifinals in 1994; and, spearheaded by superstar player Patrick Sparks, coach Steve Sparks directed the Stars to three consecutive regional titles and Sweet 16 appearances from 1998-2000. Prior to that, Central City’s Golden Tide — which ranked second all-time nationally in boys’ high school basketball victories (1,578) upon is closure in 1990 — made 17 state tournament appearances, the last coming in 1989. Fifty-one times the Golden Tide produced 20-victory

By Greg Fans/Messenger-Inquirer

Muhlenberg County’s Trey Lovell gets to the basket over Owensboro Catholic’s Sam McFarland during the boys’ 3rd Region Tournament championship game on March 28 at the Sportscenter. seasons, including an astounding 17 seasons in which they won 30 games. Other high schools in the county also had their share of big moments and big stars on the hardwood, and Muhlenberg North’s girls’ program — featuring superstar Jade Perry and coached by Mike Harper, was as prominent as any in Kentucky during the early 2000s. “Obviously, there is a very rich tradition for high school basketball in Muhlenberg County,” Eades said. “We have a great deal of respect for all the players and coaches who came before us and helped pave the way. To be able to add to that last season meant a lot to MCHS and everyone involved with our program.” As the latest keeper of the flame, Eades need look no farther than his family for inspiration and support. His father, Jim Eades, played for the Bremen Eagles and was a former high school basketball official. His uncle, Wayne Divine, was a prominent player, coach and official, and his first cousins, Steve Divine and Brad Divine, were star players at Central City and Muhlenberg North, respectively, who went on to experience productive collegiate careers. “These are the four men I admired and looked up to for as long as I can remember,” Eades said. “Growing up in a basketball-rich community with a family that has been so heavily involved with the game, it was pretty much inevitable that I would be connected to high school

basketball in some way.” Keeping the Mustangs atop the 3rd Region, meanwhile, is more of a process than a fixation for Eades and his program. “That’s not something we talk about when discussing our goals,” Eades said. “Our focus centers around steady improvement and trying to become the best basketball team we can be by the end of the season. When you respect the game, work as hard as you can and do things the right way, things tend to work out for you in a positive way.” Eades also believes any North vs. South angst within Muhlenberg County has largely dissipated. “Overall, I think we are really close,” Eades said. “The basketball tradition in the county goes back much further than just North and South — you have to go back to the seven high schools before the first consolidation. The former coaches, players, fans and supporters are the ones who laid the groundwork and established Muhlenberg as a hotbed for high school basketball in Kentucky. Ultimately, they’re the ones who deserve credit for the rich tradition that is talked about today. “Passion is what makes basketball in Muhlenberg County so special, regardless of what part of the county you are from. At this point in time, the key is channeling that energy in a positive way so that our future players and teams can keep the tradition alive.”


Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

3

APOLLO HIGH SCHOOL BOYS 2021-22 SCHEDULE

Greg Eans/Messenger-Inquirer

Apollo's Jimmy Cami Lohembe and Eli Masterson run through drills during practice on Nov. 9 at Apollo High School.

Apollo looking to take a step up

Rebuilding Eagles eager to shine

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11/30 Evansville Christian School 7:30 12/3 Webster County 7:30 12/4 at Campbellsville 7 12/7 at Grayson County 7:30 12/10 Owensboro Catholic 7:30 12/11 Bethlehem 7:30 12/14 at Whitesville Trinity 7 12/17 Owensboro 7 12/18 at Murray 4:30 12/28 vs. Rockcastle County at LaRue County 2 12/31 St. Mary 1 1/4 Butler County 7:30 1/7 at Henderson County 7 1/11 at Hopkins County Central 7:30 1/14 at Daviess County 7 1/15 Edmonson County 7:30 1/18 Breckinrisge County 7 1/21 at Owensboro Catholic 7:30 1/22 Monroe County 7:30 1/25 at Russellville 7:30 2/1 vs. Ohio County at Owensboro 7:30 2/4 at Owensboro 7 2/5 Union Counry 7 2/8 at Hancock County 7 2/11 Daviess County 7 2/12 at Monroe County 7:30 2/15 Muhlenberg County 7:30 2/17 Dawson Springs 7:30

BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER

fter going 8-50 in the two seasons prior to his arrival, the Apollo High School boys’ basketball team went 5-13 under first-year coach Mark Starns during a COVID-riddled 2020-21 season — a step in the right direction, but nowhere near where the Eagles seek to be. Now, Apollo hopes to take a

Jayden Anderson

Jaden Kelly

Grant Smith

dramatic step for ward and regain its long-held status as one of the 3rd Region’s premier programs. “We’ve got 25 kids in the program, and we’ve had great workouts and practices in the preseason,” Starns said. “We graduated six seniors, so it’s still going to be a year of rebuilding.

“But the enthusiasm within this program is outstanding, and I am ver y optimistic about the direction we’re going — we just have to continue to be patient, teach all the fundamentals of the game and give our guys as many repetitions as we can give them.” The Eagles feature several players who will battle for playing time, including 5-foot-11 junior guard Jaden Kelly (4.4 ppg), 6-1 sophomore guard Brady Ward, 6-2 sophomore for ward Eli Masterson (1.4 ppg), 6-foot junior power for ward Jayden Anderson, 5-11 senior guard Grant Smith, a transfer from Ohio County, 5-8 senior guard Alex Morphew, 6-2

junior for ward Jaxon Hardin and 5-9 junior guard Donte Dixon, a standout football r unning back. “I really like what I’ve seen from these guys,” Starns said. “Jaden has a lot of experience in the program, and this entire group is working hard to make us a better team.” Also back, perhaps, will be fifth-year senior and four-spor t star Harrison Bowman, a 6-1 guard and the squad’s top returning scorer at 8.4 points per game. He led the Eagles in 3-point shooting at 37%. “Harrison is a great shooter,” SEE APOLLO/PAGE 18


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Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

APOLLO HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

New-look E-Gals eye title encore Apollo led by senior guards Curry, Beatty BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

t was nearly a quarter centur y in the making, but the Apollo High School girls’ basketball team put it all together in 2020-21 to capture the program’s first 3rd Region championship and KHSAA state tournament appearance since 1997 — when their head coach, Natalie Payne, was an E-Gals superstar player. Now, after suffering heavy losses to graduation, Apollo will seek to defend its championship. “We lost so many quality, experienced players, it’s going to take us some time to put things together,” Payne said. “We have returning players who were part of what we accomplished last season, and we have many more in our system who are aware of it. “We were able to get over the hump last year and win a long-sought regional championship, which put the focus back on this program’s great tradition. We talk about it ever y day, and what we did last season gives all of us the incentive to go back out there and do it again.” Apollo will be led by a pair of battle-tested seniors in the backcourt, 5-foot-6 point guard Amaya Curr y and 5-9 shooting guard Shelbie Beatty. Curr y averaged 11.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game as a junior, hitting 39% from 3-point range and 76% from the foul stripe, while Beatty averaged 8.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per contest. “Amaya’s ability to handle the ball, penetrate and create is outstanding,” Payne said, “and as a senior, I think she’ll look to score

Shelbie Beatty

Jenna Dant

K’Asia Palmer

2021-22 SCHEDULE 11/29 at Meade County 12/2

South Warren

12/4

vs. Lyon County at

Muhlenberg County

12/7

Webster County

7 7:30 noon 7

12/10 Owensboro Catholic

5:30

12/11 at McCracken County

7

12/14 Union County

7:30

12/17 Owensboro

5:30

12/20 vs. Louisville Central at Elizabethtown

3:30

12/30 Evansville Christian School

4:30

1/3

Henderson County

7

1/6

at Grayson County

7

1/8

at Greenwood

4:30

1/10

at Barren County

7:30

1/14

at Daviess County

5:30

1/17

Evansville Bosse

1/21

at Owensboro Catholic

5:30

1/22

at Graves County

4:30

1/25

McLean County

1/29

at Christian County

3:30

2/1

at Hancock County

7

impact for the E-Gals include 5-9 junior power for ward K’Asia Palmer, 6-foot sophomore center Jenna Dant, 5-2 sophomore guard Gracie Sur vant, 6-foot sophomore for ward Jennifer Lee and 5-6 junior guard Emmie Bullington.

2/4

at Owensboro

5:30

2/5

at Marshall County

6:30

SEE E-GALS/PAGE 19

Alan Warren/Messenger-Inquirer

Apollo’s Amaya Curry leads a fast break during practice in the auxiliary gym at Apollo High School. more for us. She’s a real threat with the basketball in her hands. “Shelbie provides us great size from the guard spot, and she’s versatile enough to play four different positions on the floor. She’s a great defender who is capable of knocking down the 3.” Others expected to make an

12:30

12/28 Ohio County

2/7 Greenwood

7

7

7:30

2/8

Muhlenberg County

7

2/11

Daviess County

2/14

Breckinridge County

7

2/17

at Madisonville-North Hopkins

7

5:30


Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

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DAVIESS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

Panthers seek to finish stronger Burch set to lead DC’s offensive attack BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

ed by one of the top returning players in the 3rd Region, a trio of battle-tested seniors and a potential-laden senior newcomer, the Daviess County High School boys’ basketball team is looking to take a significant step up in 2021-22. “We were on the verge of winning a lot of games last year, and our average loss was 2.5 points,” Panthers coach Neil Hayden said. “So, obviously, we’re looking to finish games stronger this season — a year

Cole Burch

Devonte McCampbell

Jack Payne

older and a year stronger, I think we’re in position to do this. “It comes down to figuring out how to make game-winning plays, and with our personnel, I think we’ll be much better at that this season.” DC, which struggled to a 5-14 mark in 2020-21, will be led by 6-foot-2 junior swingman Cole SEE PANTHERS/PAGE 18

SUPPORTING LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

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Alan Warren/Messenger-Inquirer

Daviess County’s Koki Kato shoots a jump hook while doing drills during basketball practice at Daviess County High School.

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Text or Call 270-316-3166

Email: David.Boswell@Kyfb.com


6 BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

DAVIESS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

New era begins for Lady Panthers Haile expects big effort from Daviess

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BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER

irst-year Daviess County High School girls’ basketball coach Stephen Haile likes what he’s seen from a Lady Panthers team making the transition to a new system. “The preseason has gone pretty well,” said Haile, a former Henderson County assistant who is takes over from John Kirkpatrick. “As a new coach, there are a lot of things that are different that I’m expecting out of them, and there are a lot of new things the girls have had to learn. “New offense, new defense, more conditioning than they’ve probably been used to — but they’ve done a good job of picking up on what we’re trying to put in. So far, I’ve been pretty impressed.” DC — which finished 8-12 and lost by 18 points to Apollo in the first round of the 9th District Tournament last season — returns a core of veteran players who could make the team a title contender in the postseason. Leading the way will be a pair of battle-tested senior guards — Katie Mewes (10.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and Ella Payne (7.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg). “Katie is a veteran player who is a great defender, and she does a good job attacking the basket,” Haile said. “Ella is another veteran presence who has been battling a knee injury in the preseason — a solid player.” The team’s top returning player, meanwhile, is junior guard Adylan Ayer, who averaged 12.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season. “We got her late because of the great run she had with our volleyball team, but I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen from Adylan,” Haile said. “She’s a great defender and she’s very athletic at both ends of the court. She’s a quality scorer and rebounder, and she goes hard all the time in terms of effort.” Another key returnee is freshman

Adylan Ayer

Lily Hoagland

Katie Mewes

2021-22 SCHEDULE

Alan Warren/Messenger-Inquirer

Daviess County’s Kaylee Blandford dribbles during practice at Daviess County High School. guard Lily Hoagland, who, as an eighth-grader, averaged 11.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in six varsity games before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. “Lily was just recently released (to play),” Haile said. “She’s a really good player, and she’s going to be able to help us this year, but it’s going to take her some time to return to complete form. Hopefully, she’ll be closer to that at the end of the season.”

Others expected to contribute for DC include junior forward Madison Spurrier (last season’s leading free-throw shooter at 79%), junior center Kaylee Blandford, junior guard C.J. Paige, junior guard Kennedi Owen, junior forward Maggie Hancock, freshman forward-center Zoey Beehn, freshman guard Emme Roberts and freshman guard Laina Butler. SEE ERA/PAGE 17

11/30 at Hancock County 6 p.m. 12/3 vs. Meade County at Owensboro Catholic 8:30 12/4 vs. Pulaski County at Muhlenberg County 1:45 12/7 at University Heights 6:30 12/10 Owensboro 5:30 12/11 Logan County 3:30 12/14 at Ohio County 7 12/17 at Owensboro Catholic 6 12/20 vs. Union County at Sportscenter 2:15 12/21 vs. Butler County at Sportscenter 2:15 12/27 vs. Lyon County at Caldwell County 11 12/28 vs. Hickman County at Caldwell County 12:30 1/3 Evansville Reitz 7 1/7 Muhlenberg County 7:30 1/11 Grayson County 7:30 1/14 Apollo 5:30 1/15 at Trigg County 4:30 1/18 at Christian County 7:30 1/20 Breckinridge County 7:30 1/21 Henderson County 7 1/25 Hopkinsville 7:30 1/28 at Owensboro 5:30 2/1 at McLean County 7:30 2/4 Owensboro Catholic 5:30 2/5 vs. Webster County at Sportscenter 4:15 2/8 at Madisonville-North Hopkins 7:30 2/11 at Apollo 5:30 2/12 at Lyon County 10 2/14 Whitesville Trinity 6 2/17 at Edmonson County 7:30


Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

7

OWENSBORO HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

Red Devils reaching for greatness OHS loaded with both talent and experience

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BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER

wensboro had a solid season in 2020-21, winning 12 of 18 games, capturing the 9th District championship and advancing to the semifinal round of the 3rd Region Tournament, where it lost to eventual champion Muhlenberg County. A good season, indeed, but now the tradition-rich Red Devils are eyeing a return to greatness. “Potentially, we have a lot of experience returning, and that’s always a good thing — a lot of our players know what it takes to win at a high level,” OHS coach Rod Drake said. “This is a group that takes the game seriously, knows what it expected of them and gets it done day after day. “It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together to become the best team we can be.” Two of western Kentucky’s top scorers return to lead the Red Devils — fifth-year senior swingman Amari Robinson-Wales (17.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and mercurial junior guard Kenyata Carbon (18.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg). “Amari coming back really helps us, adds to what we’ll be able to do on the court as a team,” Drake said. “He’s a scorer, and his leadership abilities will be invaluable to our young guys — he’s just an outstanding all-around player. “Kenyata is a tough kid who loves the game, loves to compete, and he’s a gamer — you’re going to get the best he has very time he steps on the court, and he’s also become a very good leader for us.” Other juniors who could make an impact for the Red Devils are 6-5 forward Ethan Pendleton (5.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg), 6-1 forward Jeremiah Goodwin (3.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg), 5-9 guard Cayman Powell (3.7 ppg), 6-1 swingman Talas Taylor (3.9 ppg), 6-1 guard Jaylen

Kenyata Carbon

Jeremiah Goodwin

Amari Robinson-Wales

Rogers (1.3 ppg) and 6-1 junior forward Dylon Talbott (1.8 ppg). “Ethan takes up a lot of space, runs the floor well and is a good shot-blocker,” Drake said. “He’s also a capable scorer and a tough matchup for our opponents.” Also expected to step up will be 5-9 sophomore guard Chris Glover, who averaged 4.3 points per game last season. “A year of varsity experience really helped Chris,” Drake said. “He’s a quality player who has a chance to SEE OHS/PAGE 17

2021-22 SCHEDULE 11/30 at Hancock County

7:30

12/10 at Daviess County

7

12/17 at Apollo

7

12/18 at Warren Central

4:30

12/29 vs. McLean County 1/7

Muhlenberg County

1/8

vs. Greenwood

at Bowling Green

3:30

1/11

at Grayson County

7:30

1/14

Owensboro Catholic

7:30

1/25

Madisonville-North Hopkins 7:30

1/28

Daviess County

7

2/1

Breckinridge County

7

2/4 Apollo

7:30

7

2/8

Bowling Green

7:30

2/11

at Owensboro Catholic

7:30

2/15

at Ohio County

2/17

at Henderson County

7 7:30

Greg Eans/Messenger-Inquirer

Owensboro’s Chris Glover shoots a layup during practice on Nov. 9 in the main gym at Owensboro High School.


8 BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

OWENSBORO HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

Lady Devils anxious to move up OHS improved to 10-10 last season

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BY JIM PICKENS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

he Owensboro High School girls’ basketball program took a significant step in the right direction last season, finishing a competitive 10-10 after winning only five of 30 games in 2019-20. Lady Devils coach Janson Locher is hoping the upward trend continues this season. “We had a really good preseason and were able to implement things earlier this time around,” Locher said. “This has probably been the most fun three or four weeks of practice we’ve had since I’ve been here — ever yone is on the same page and working for the same objective. “We’re optimistic because we feel like we have enough playmakers to make some things happen for us on the cour t. This is a versatile, hard-working group, and we’re just tr ying to get ever yone in the right spot — once we do, I think we’ll be ready for success.” Owensboro is led by 5-foot-9 sophomore wing A’L yrica Hughes, who led the team in scoring (10.5 ppg) and was second in rebounding (5 rpg) as a freshman. “She’s still just a sophomore, but she’s already a two-time All-9th District selection, so she has a lot of varsity experience,” Locher said of Hughes. “She knows how to score the ball, she’s also a good rebounder, and I think she’s ready to take the next step with her game. She’s ready to become a leader for our team. Also back are 5-7 junior guard-for ward Lindsey Gibson (2.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg), 5-6 junior guard Melia Moorman, who suf fered a significant ACL injur y and has

Lindsey Gibson

Trinity Hogg

Melia Moorman

2021-22 SCHEDULE

Greg Eans/Messenger-Inquirer

Owensboro’s A’Lyrica Hughes makes her way down court during a practice Nov. 9 at Owensboro High School. not played in two seasons, 5-9 sophomore for ward Trinity Hogg (2.9 rpg), 5-10 sophomore for ward Lizy Phillips (3 ppg, 3.9 rpg), 5-foot sophomore guard Lulu Greer, 5-foot eighth-grade guard Unique Car terSwanagan, 5-3 sophomore guard Emma Wilkins, and 5-4 sophomore guard Olivia Wilkins. “Lindsey has a nice 3-point shot, and she’s worked hard in the weight

room to become stronger,” Locher said. “Melia has a lot of ability and her presence will help us, even as she continues to come back from a major knee injur y. “Trinity and Lizy give us good size and strength on the inside. Trinity is probably the strongest player on the team, and she’s come SEE DEVILS/PAGE 17

11/29 at Evansville Bosse 7 11/30 Ohio County 7 12/3 Evansville Christian Shool 5:30 12/4 vs. Madisonville-North Hopkins at Owensboro Catholic 8:30 12/7 at Muhlenberg County 7:30 12/10 at Daviess County 5:30 12/11 Meade County 2:30 12/14 at Hancock County 7 12/17 at Apollo 5:30 12/20 vs. Evansville Reitz at Sportscenter 3:45 12/21 vs. McLean County at Sportscenter 11 12/28 vs. Rockcastle County at South Warren 4 12/29 vs. Marshall County at South Warren 3 12/29 vs. Oldham County at South Warren 7 1/3 at Grayson County 7 1/10 Whitesville Trinity 6 1/11 South Warren 7 1/14 Owensboro Catholic 5:30 1/18 at University Heights 6 1/22 at Calloway County 3:30 1/28 Daviess County 5:30 1/29 Henderson County 1:30 2/4 Apollo 5:30 2/5 Warren Central 7:30 2/7 at Breckinridge County 7 2/11 at Owensboro Catholic 6 2/12 Hopkinsville 2 2/15 at Butler County 7:30


Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

9

OWENSBORO CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL BOYS 2021-22 SCHEDULE 11/30 at Greenwood 12/2

at Ohio County

12/4

vs. Calloway County

at Sportscenter

12/7

at Evansville Bosse

12/10 at Apollo

7:30 7

7 7:30

12/14 Cloverport (All ‘A’ 3rd Region) 12/17 Daviess County

7:30

12/18 at Butler County

2:30

12/21 Hopkins County Central

1:15

12/22 at Graves County

4:15

12/27

vs. TBD

1/3

at Whitesville Trinity

(All ‘A’ 3rd Region)

7

1/7

at Meade County

7

1/11

Webster County

7

1/14

at Owensboro

1/21 Apollo

Owensboro Catholic’s Wyatt Jenkins prepares to shoot a layup during practice on Nov. 10 at the Sportscenter.

7:30

1/24

Christian County

7

2/4

at Daviess County

7

2/5

vs. Collins at Warren Central TBD

2/8

at Muhlenberg County

2/11 Owensboro Greg Eans/Messenger-Inquirer

7:30

7:30 7:30

2/15

Breckinridge County

7

2/18

Evansville Reitz

7

Aces hope to get healthy, contend Stars Griffith, Webb coming off injuries

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BY JIM PICKENS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

espite losing star guard Brian Griffith to a season-ending ACL injur y late in the 2020-21 regular season, the Owensboro Catholic High School boys’ basketball team pulled together and, somehow, reached the 3rd Region Tournament championship game, falling to

Tut Carrico

Parker Gray

Ji Webb

Muhlenberg County. To start this season, the Aces will need to pull together again, as both Griffith, pegged to return in early Januar y, and standout for ward Ji Webb, coming off a football-related shoulder surger y, will likely be out of the lineup in the early going.

“The early portion of the season will be a real challenge without Griff and Ji, no doubt about it,” Catholic High coach Tim Riley said. “We’re just going to have to hang in there early with the players we have available, gain some experience, and go from there. “When we get healthy, I believe we have the opportunity to become a ver y good, ver y competitive basketball team — but it will take us a while.” The Aces finished a solid 18-10 last season, and the mercurial Griffith, now a 5-foot-8 junior, was a major reason why — averaging a

team-best 22.6 points per game while shooting 35% from 3-point range and 79% from the free-throw stripe in 22 games. “Brian is an outstanding player, a young man who has already scored 1,000 points in his high school career,” Riley said. “He’s a high-volume scorer who can get his points in a variety of ways, and he’s a ver y difficult player to contain, a hard player to guard because of his athleticism and skill.” Fellow junior Webb, at 6-6 and 205 pounds, is also one of western SEE ACES/PAGE 17


10 BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

OWENSBORO CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

Proud Lady Aces deep and talented Versatile Catholic ready to contend BY JIM PICKENS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

Camille Conkright

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proud program that has experienced a ton of success over the last two decades, Owensboro Catholic went through an up-and-down season in 2020-21, finishing 15-12, losing by 22 points to Apollo in the 9th District championship game and dropping a one-point decision to Meade County in the 3rd Region Tournament semifinals. The Lady Aces, chock-full of talent and experience, will be seeking a much better run this season. “I feel like we have 10 girls who can all play at a high level — we don’t fall off much, if any, when we replace one girl with another,” OCHS coach Michael Robertson said. “We’re probably going to play a lot of people, we’re going to play uptempo, and we’re going to try to wear the opposition down. “We’re balanced, and we’ve got some interchangeable parts, which is always a good thing. In terms of talent level, we’re really deep. This is one of the most talented teams from top to bottom we’ve had since I’ve been here.” Two seniors will lead the Lady Aces, 5-8 guard Camille Conkright and 5-11 center Kinsley Goetz. “Camille is very good at the defensive end, and she has a solid 3-point shot,” Robertson said. “Kinsley is a good rebounder who can step out and hit the 3-pointer — she’s very effective in the paint area.” The team’s top returning scorer, however, is only a sophomore — 5-8 guard Hailee Johnson, who averaged 8.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game as one of the area’s top freshmen. “Hailee made big strides last season, and she continues to get more and more comfortable in our

Kinsley Goetz

Hailee Johnson

2021-22 SCHEDULE 11/29 at Castle (Ind.)

7

12/4

Bullitt East

7

12/7

at Meade County

7

12/10 at Apollo

5:30

12/14 Cloverport (All ‘A’ 3rd Region)

6

12/17 Daviess County

6

12/19 vs. Bethlehem at Bullitt East 4:30 12/28 vs. Newport Central Catholic

at South Warren

5:30

12/29 vs. Taylor County

Greg Eans/Messenger-Inquirer

Owensboro Catholic’s Katie Riney runs through drills during practice Nov. 10 at the high school. system,” Robertson said. “She’s very effective and efficient when she gets downhill with her drives to the basket, and she does a great job of getting her teammates involved — a great all-around player.” A host of juniors will be at the core of the squad, including 5-6 junior point guard Katie Riney (5 ppg, team-best 4.4 rpg), 5-8 forward Maddie Hayden (5.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg), 5-9 forward-center Rachel Traylor (3.2 ppg, 2 rpg), 5-8

forward-guard Lexie Keelin (3.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and 5-8 forward-guard Lauren Keelin (2.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg). “Katie is in her fourth year with the program, knows how to play the game and has a knack for the ball,” Robertson said. “Maddie is a quality defender who also does a good job getting to the basket on drives — just really solid in all ways. SEE CATHOLIC/PAGE 17

at South Warren

1:30

12.29 at South Warren

5:30 p.m.

1/9

at Sacred Heart

1/11

Muhlenberg County

2:30 6

12/14 at Owensboro

5:30

1/21 Apollo

5:30

2/4

at Daviess Cuonty

5:30

2/8

Christian County

7:30

2/11 Owensboro

6

2/12

vs. Bardstown

at Breckinridge County)

2/14

at Henderson County

7

2/18

at Breckinridge County

7

11


Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

11

10TH DISTRICT BOYS

Mustangs looking to stay at the top Champs will be challenged by Ohio, McLean BY JIM PICKENS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

A

fter an 11-year hiatus, Muhlenberg County’s boys’ basketball team made it back to the promised land last season — winning the 3rd Region Tournament championship and returning to the KHSAA state tournament for the first time since 2010, the debut school year after consolidation between North and South high schools. Now, of course, the Mustangs are hoping to make a return trip to the Sweet 16. To do so, Muhlenberg County — which finished a sterling 19-2 last season — must contend with a pair of familiar 10th District rivals, Ohio

County and McLean County. The Eagles feature a new coach in Paul Decker — taking over for Tony Hopper — who will attempt to elevate the program to the next level after finishing 13-11 last season. McLean County, led by coach Darren Lynam, is coming off an outstanding 17-9 campaign, but the Cougars failed to reach the regional tournament, dropping a first-round district tournament clash with Ohio County (36-33).

MUHLENBERG COUNTY

The Mustangs lost last season’s most indispensable player in star guard Nash Divine (16.7 ppg), but the cupboard is far from bare for coach Kyle Eades, who is hoping to make it back-

6 ppg), and 6-3 forward Dylan Niemi. “Trey is a dynamic point guard with great leadership skills, and Cole has the ability to score anywhere on the floor,” Eades said. “Asher plays to-back Sweet 16 appearances for his extremely hard at all times, and Davion squad. is an athletic guard who can shoot the 3 “What we are trying to accomplish is and put the ball on the floor. not any different than any other year,” “Donovan plays a key role for us Eades said. “Our goals are always defensively and on the boards, Brayden process-oriented. We focus on steady is an excellent defender who possesses improvement and building chemistry tremendous speed and strength for his over the course of the season. size, and Dylan is a highly-intelligent “Ultimately, we are trying to maxiand fundamental player.” mize our potential as a team and hope Also in the mix will be 6-2 junior to be playing our best basketball going forward Kadin Ray, 6-6 junior forward into tournament play.” Chandler Moore and 5-11 sophomore Seven seniors will be featured on the guard Madox Jernigan. Mustangs roster, including 6-foot guard “We have a really nice blend of playTrey Lovell (7.3 ppg), 6-1 forward Cole ers who complement each other well,” Vincent (11.7 ppg, team-best 5 rpg)), Eades said. “We try to really get after it 6-1, forward Asher Carver (5.8 ppg), at the defensive end and be as disrup6-foot guard Davion Summers (3.7 tive as possible.” ppg), 6-foot forward Donovan McCoy (5 ppg), 6-1 guard Brayden Lovan SEE MUSTANGS/PAGE 20

2021-22 SCHEDULES MCLEAN COUNTY 11/29 Cloverport 7 12/3 Meade County 7 12/4 at Trigg County 1:30 12/7 Ohio County 7:45 12/10 Hancock County 7:30 12/14 at Muhlenberg County 7:45 12/17-18 at Louisville Christmas Classic 12/21-22 at Agrgold Christmas Tournament 12/29 vs. Owensboro at Sportscenter TBD 12/30 vs. Ludlow at Sportscenter 2:45 1/8 at Grayson County 6 1/15 Dawson Springs 3:30 1/17 Butler County 4:30 1/20 at Ohio County”7:45 1/22 vs. Breckinridge County at Owensboro TBD 1/28 Muhlenberg County 6 1/31 Todd County Central 7:30 2/4 vs. Hopkins County Central at Sportscenter TBD 2/5 vs. Louisville Collegiate at Sportscenter 11:30

2/5 2/8 2/10 2/12 2/17

vs. Foundation Christian Academy at Sportscenter 7:15 at Daviess County 7 at Dawson Springs 7:30 Evansville Day 5 Whitesville Trinity 7:30

MUHLENBERG COUNTY 11/30 at Christian County 7:30 12/3 Bowling Green 7:30 12/7 at Murray 7:30 12/10 Greenwood 7:45 12/11 Christ Presbyterian (Tenn.) Academy TBD 12/14 McLean County 7:45 12/17 at Ohio County 7:45 12/20 vs. Simon Kenton at Scott 2:45 12/28-20) at Centralia (Ill.) Holiday Tournament 1/4 at Evansville Christian School 7:30 1/7 at Owensboro 7:30 1/10 Hancock County 7:30 1/14 Ohio County 7:45

1/18 Grayson County 7 1/20 at Whitesville Trinity 7:30 1/22 vs. North Hardin at Ohio County noon 1/25 Butler County 7:30 1/28 at McLean County 6 1/29 at Breckinridge County 6:30 21 Daviess County 7:30 2/4 vs. Henderson County at Sportscenter TBD 2/8 Owensboro Catholic 7:30 2/12 vs. Harrison County at Lyon County 2:30 2/15 at Apollo 7:30 2/18 Warren Central 7:30

OHIO COUNTY 12/2 12/4 12/7 12/11 12/17 12/20

Owensboro Catholic 7 Tates Creek 6 at McLean County 7:45 vs. Warren East at South Warren 8 Muhlenberg County 7:45 vs. Monroe County at Edmonson County noon

12/21 vs. Glasgow at Edmonson County noon 12/22 vs. Green County at Edmonson County noon 12/28 Meade County 4:30 12/19 vs. Castle (Ind.) at Sportscenter 6:15 12/30 Franklin-Simpson 4:30 1/4 at Grayson County 7 1/6 Daviess County 7 1/7 Butler County 7:45 1/11 at Barren County 7:30 1/14 at Muhlenberg County 7:45 p.m. 1/20 McLean County 7:45 1/22 Hart County 7 1/28 at Hancock County 7 1/29 at Calloway County 5 2/1 vs. Apollo at Owensboro 7:30 2/4 at Breckinridge County 7 2/8 at Whitesville Trinity 7 2/12 Henderson County 7 2/15 Owensboro 7 2/17 at South Warren 7:45


12 BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

10TH DISTRICT GIRLS

Title is up for grabs in 10th District Youthful McLean seeking to defend

“Natalie is a returning three-year starter,” Groves said. “She has been more of a distributor over the past three seasons, but we will need her BY JIM PICKENS will be intriguing throughout the to score more this season — she is MESSENGER-INQUIRER 2021-22 season. also one of our better defenders. “Alyssa is going to be called upon MCLEAN COUNTY cLean County broke through to knock down the outside shot. She The Lady Cougars lost a wealth of was our leader in 3-point shooting to win the 10th District talent to graduation, and the squad Tournament championship in percentage last season, and I believe returns only three players who 2020-21, featuring a veteran team she can shoot it even better now” played in more than 13 games last under first-year coach Ryan Groves. Others contending for playing season. Now, however, the Lady Cougars time include 5-9 senior Amanda “We are in a rebuilding year,” are in rebuilding mode. and this Ecton, 5-9 junior Breanna Frailley, year’s district championship appears Groves said. “We are a guard-heavy 5-8 senior Laila Bell, 5-7 sophomore team that will look to score off our to be up for grabs. Sarah Miller and 5-4 junior Marla defense. We have to knock down the Blades. Traditional power Muhlenberg outside shot, and we don’t have a County, directed by longtime coach “I think our district is wide open, lot of size. We are quick, and we will so our goal will be the same as Mike Harper, is coming off a rare, subpar season and is eager to return need to use that quickness to help us always,” Groves said. “We want to create open looks.” to the top. get the (district’s) No. 1 seed and Among McLean’s top returnees At Ohio County, meanwhile, a automatic bid to the 3rd Region are 5-foot-6 junior guard Natalie familiar face, Ted Hill, returns to Tournament. We also want to win the another traditionally-strong program Patterson (6.1 ppg, 2.3 apg, 1.8 district tournament for the second spg) and 5-6 junior guard Alyssa after a stint at Grayson County. straight year, which has never been Sorting out the 10th District, then, Burrough. done in our school’s histor y.”

M

MUHLENBERG COUNTY

The Lady Mustangs struggled to only two victories in 15 outings last season and will be anxious to get that trend turned around in a hurr y this time around. “We will be a vastly improved from last season,” Harper said. “We need some experience and confidence, and we need to improve our overall game and play consistently with more intensity and purpose. “It’s going to be exciting to see how this team improves and where it goes. These kids need some time to find their identity.” Muhlenberg’s top returning player is 5-8 junior wing Sarah-Cate Boggess, who averaged 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds last season. Other key players include 5-10 sophomore for ward Brooklyn Stewart (3 ppg, 3 rpg), 5-5 junior guard Macy Fields (3 ppg) and 5-4 SEE TITLE/PAGE 20

2021-22 SCHEDULES MCLEAN COUNTY 11/30 Greenwood 7:30 12/2 Hancock County 7:30 12/4 vs. Trigg County at Muhenberg County 5:15 12/7 Ohio County 6 12/10 Hancock County 6 12/11 at Hopkinsville 2:30 12/14 at Muhlenberg County 6 12/17 Lyon County 7:30 12/20 vs. Barren County at Sportscenter 12:30 12/21 vs. Owensboro at Sportscenter 11 12/21 cs. Forest Park (Ind.) at Sportscenter 5:15 12/28 vs. George Rogers Clark at Warren Central 2 1/8 at Grayson County 2:30 1/11 Webster County 7:30 1/15 at Marshall County 2:30 1/20 at Ohio County 6 1/22 Breckinridge County 3 1/25 at Apollo 7

1/28 2/1 2/5 2/8 2/10 2/12 2/15 2/18

Muhlenberg County Daviess County at Hopkins County Central at Crittenden County Grayson County Whitesville Trinity at Henderson County Union County

7:30 7:30 3:30 7:30 7:30 2 7 7:30

MUHLENBERG COUNTY 11/30 Christian County 7:30 12/3 Whitesville Trinity 6 12/4 Edmonson County 7 12/7 Owensboro 7:30 12/10 Murray 6 12/11 vs. Massac County (Ill.) at McCracken County noon 12/14 McLean County 6 12/17 at Ohio County 6 12/20 vs. Butler County at Sportscenter 11 12/21 vs. Union County at Sportscenter 12:30 12/27-28 at Murray Bank Lady Tiger Classic 1/3 Madisonville-North Hopkins 7

1/7 1/8 1/11 1/14 1/18 1/21 1/22 1/25 1/28 1/31 2/4 2/5 2/8 2/11 2/15 2/17

at Daviess County Hopkins County Central at Owensboro Catholic Ohio County Meade County at Trigg County at Hopkinsville at Hancock County at McLean County Henderson County Breckinridge County South Warren at Apollo at Bowling Green Grayson County Graves County

11/30 12/4 12/7 12/10 12/11

at Owensboro vs. Russellville at Muhlenberg County at McLean County at Logan County Christian County

7:30 3:30 6 6 5:30 7:30 1:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 7 6:30 7 7:30 7:30 7:30

OHIO COUNTY 7 3:30 6 7 4:30

12/14 Daviess County 12/17 Muhlenberg County 12/20 Hancock County 12/21 Todd County Central 12/22 Hopkins County Central 12/28 at Apollo 12/29 vs. Hancock County at Sportscenter 12/30 Franklin-Simpson 1/4 at Todd County Cenrral 1/7 Butler County 1/8 at Crittenden County 1/10 Logan County 1/14 at Muhlenberg County 1/17 at Lyon County 1/20 McLean County 1/22 Grayson County 1/29 Meade County 2/1 Breckinridge County 2/4 at Hopkins County Central 2/7 Whitesville Trinity 2/8 at Greenwood 2/11 Warren Central 2/12 Caldwell County 2/14 Edmonson County 2/17 at South Warren

7 6 7 7 7 3:30 4:45 3 7:30 6 5 7 6 7:30 6 5:15 4 7 7:30 6 7:30 7:30 2:30 7:30 6


Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

13

11TH DISTRICT BOYS

Veteran Hornets in position to contend Hancock features deep, talented contingent

T

BY JIM PICKENS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

he Hancock County High School boys’ basketball team appears to be ready to contend for the 11th District championship in 2021-22. “We have a wealth of experience coming back,” Hornets coach Mike Orr said. “Our goal is to contend for the district championship and advance to the regional tournament. “We have a very tough schedule, playing several traditionally strong programs in and out of the region, which we feel will make us better and more prepared for postseason play. “Improving our defense and ball-handling will be major keys to our success.” Hancock County, 7-10 last season, features a host of productive returnees, including 6-foot junior point guard Evan Ferry (10 ppg, 6 apg, 3 rpg), 6-foot junior guard Devyn Powers (14.5 ppg, 4 rpg), 6-4 junior forward Kaleb Keown (12.5 ppg, 5 rpg) and 6-3 junior forward Ryan Ogle (10.5 ppg, 5 rpg). “Perry is a very speedy point guard who has a great understanding of the game, and Powers is an excellent shooter who has added quickness and strength,” Orr said. “Keown is another excellent shooter who has developed a mid-range game, and Ogle has a great all-around game.” Newcomers expected to impact the Hornets include 6-4 junior forward Landyn Emmick, 6-1 senior swingman Dalton Flake and 6-foot junior forward Luke Brown. “As usual, our opponent will dictate the style we play — overall, team speed and depth will also determine how we play,” Orr said. “Offensively, we have several excellent shooters, so the 3-ball will be an important part of our offense, but we also have guys like Ogle who can post up and score inside, so I feel like we have nice balance. “Defensively, we would like to be able to play man-to-man the entire time, but the

opponent and matchups may put us into some zone defense situations.”

BRECKINRIDGE COUNTY

Jeff LaGrange takes the reins from longtime Fighting Tigers coach Patrick Critchelow, with a rebuilding job in front of him. “This team lost over 80% of its scoring from last year’s team that only won seven games, so there will be a lot of challenges,” LaGrange conceded. “Only three guys have played three or more varsity games, so inexperience will also be an issue. “We will try to establish a culture where they keys are physical and mental toughness, playing hard for each other all the time. “We will have to focus on good defense and rebounding, taking care of the basketball, making open shots and finishing around the basket.” Top returnees include 5-8 junior guard Eamon O’Donoghue (10.7 ppg, 40% 3-point shooter), 5-9 freshman point guard Mercer Rogers (4 ppg), 6-2 junior forward Lane Taul (5 ppg), 6-4 sophomore forward Hayden Brockman, 6-3 junior forward Jacob Henning, 5-8 junior guard Kolton Miller and 5-8 senior guard Isaiah Hart. Key newcomers include 6-7 junior center-forward Hunter Barr and swingman Jonah Miller, a 6-2 eighth-grader.

CLOVERPORT

The Aces are coming off a rough 1-22 campaign and will be looking to take a step in the right direction this time around behind a host of returning players The team’s top returning players are 6-foot junior forward Conner Lagadinos, who averaged 7.1 points and a team-best 6.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore, and 6-foot senior forward Austin Hedges, who averaged 8.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per outing, while leading the squad in both 2-point and 3-point field-goal percentage. Four other key returnees include 5-9

senior guard Zach Lamar (2.7 ppg), 6-foot junior forward Nathan Poole (3.8 ppg), 5-9 sophomore guard Cole Weatherholt (4.3 ppg) and 6-foot senior forward Payton Blair (3 ppg). Cloverport will be seeking to improve its overall shooting. Last season, the Aces shot just 28% from the field, including 19% from 3-point range, and only 51% from the foul stripe.

MEADE COUNTY

The Green Wave won the 11th District Tournament championship last season with a 19-point conquest of Hancock County, and coach Jason Tripure’s squad figures to be right back in the hunt this season. “We will have six seniors who will play, but only a few have varsity experience,” Tripure said. “The keys for us to have a

successful season will be to defend well, rebound well and be consistent in our ability to score the basketball. “We like an uptempo game with a motion offense, and defensively we’ll have a combination of man-to-man and zone, and we’ll also press at times.” Meade’s top returnees include 6-foot senior point guard Cooper Crump (4 ppg), 6-foot senior shooting guard Grant Beavin (6 ppg) and 6-3 senior forward Trent Knoop, who was injured last season but is a potential scoring threat. “Crump needs to score for us and take care of the ball,” Tripure said, “and Beavin is an explosive kid who can attack the basket.” Two players hoping to make major impacts are 6-2 sophomore forward Garrett Hardesty and 5-9 sophomore guard Peyton Johnston.

2021-22 SCHEDULE HANCOCK COUNTY 11/30 Owensboro 7:30 12/4 vs. Frankfort at Campbellsville 1:30 12/7 at Cloverport 7:30 12/10 at McLean County 7:30 12.11 at Hopkins County Central 7:30 12/14 at Daviess County 7:30 12/17 at Breckinridge County 7 12/20 vs. John Hardin 4:30 12/21 vs. Butler 4:30 12/22 at Madisonville-North Hopkins 2 12/28-29 at Russellville’s Roy’s Bar-B-Que/ First National Bank Tournament 1/4-6 at All ‘A’ 3rd Region Tournament (Whitesville Trinity) 1/10 at Muhlenberg County 7:30 1/11 Tell City (Ind.) 7:30 1/15 at Adair County 5:30 1/21 at Meade County 6 1/28 Ohio County 7 1/29 Union County 4:30 1/31 Cloverport 7:30 2/4 Meade County 7 2/5 at Cannelton (Ind.) 7:30 2/8 Apollo 7 2/11 Breckinridge County 7 2/12 at Perry Central (Ind.) 7 2/14 Henderson County 7:30 2/15 at Whitesville Trinity 7:30 2/18 at Grayson County 7:30

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14 BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

11TH DISTRICT GIRLS

Expectations high for Lady Hornets Versatile Poole returns to lead Hancock

E

BY JIM PICKENS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

Hornets include 5-2 junior guard Emma Morris, 5-10 sophomore for ward Kendra Keown and 5-9 sophomore for ward Alexis Gay. “We have great unity on our team this season, and this is a ver y unselfish group,” Husk said. “We have a good-shooting team, and we have defensive toughness. “Limiting turnovers and staying out of foul trouble will be key to our success.”

xpectations are high in the 2021-22 season for the Hancock County High School girls’ basketball team. The Lady Hornets were only 7-10 last season, but they won three of their final five regular-season games and were competitive in a loss to eventual champion Breckinridge County in the first round of the 11th District Tournament. BRECKINRIDGE COUNTY “I’m ver y excited about the group The Lady Tigers are coming off an we have coming back and a few outstanding season, which included new pieces we’re adding from the a 3rd Region-best 22-4 record younger group,” Hancock County and an 11th District Tournament coach Kevin Husk said. “We lost five championship. players that played varsity last year “With a strong senior class and (three seniors), and we a lot of experienced don’t have any seniors, “I’m very excited about underclassmen, we but I like this team a have the ability to the group we have lot. make another great coming back and a few run at a regional title,” “I expect us to compete for a district said Breck County new pieces we’re championship and coach Chad Moorman, adding from the a 3rd Region All ‘A’ whose team lost a 47-46 younger group. We lost decision to eventual championship again five players that played champion Apollo in this season.” Leading the way for varsity last year (three last year’s 3rd Region the Lady Hornets will “A seniors), and we don’t Tournament. be 5-3 junior guard challenging schedule have any seniors, but I will definitely help us Bailey Poole, who like this team a lot.” averaged 13.9 points be prepared for the per game last season, postseason. shooting 42% from “We’ll be looking 3-point range, 83% for our young guards — Kevin Husk to step up, and we’re from the foul line and Hancock County coach excited to get going.” leading the team in assists. Leading the Lady Also back are 5-9 sophomore Tigers will be 5-4 senior guard Isabel wing Lily Roberts, who averaged Grimes, who averaged 14 points, six 7.5 points and a team-best 5.5 assists and four rebounds per game rebounds per game, while shooting as a junior. Grimes shot 40% from 3% from 3-point range, along with 5-7 3-point range. sophomore for ward Ella House, who “She has the ability to take a game came off the bench to average five over,” Moorman said of Grimes. “She points and four rebounds per game can score from anywhere on the as a freshman. court.” Others in the mix for the Lady Also back are a pair of 5-7 seniors

— Sydney Tucker (12 ppg, 5 rpg) and Skylar Tucker (4 ppg, 4 rpg). Top newcomers are 6-1 freshman Hayleigh Huffines and 5-4 eighth-grader Elizabeth Grimes.

CLOVERPORT

The Lady Aces enjoyed some success last season, finishing 7-12, and will be looking to take another step in the right direction. To do so, Cloverport will have to overcome the loss of tits top two scorers, Olivia Weatherholt and Lily Nottingham. The Lady Aces return 5-5 senior guard Bailey Hurst, who averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 rebounds, and 5-8 senior for ward Lindsey Thurman, who averaged 6.9 points and 5.7 rebounds. Other seniors expected to provide leadership are 5-7 for ward Emily Bennett and 5-4 guard Liannah Dupin. Others expected to contribute include 5-1 sophomore guard Cascy Burden, 5-8 freshman for ward Johnnie Taul, 5-4 freshman guard Calleigh Roach, 4-9 freshman guard Alexis Hurst and 5-7 eighth-grade for ward Gabrielle Stinnett.

MEADE COUNTY

The always-competitive Lady Waves played their best basketball in 2020-21 at the end of the season, advancing to the 3rd Region Tournament championship game, and they will be looking to build on that this season. Coach Dina Hackert’s squad will be led by one of the state’s best young players in 5-8 freshman guard Peyton Bradley, who averaged 17.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as an eighth-grader to help Meade finish 14-9. Bradley shot 41% from 3-point range and made 69% of her free throws. Other wise, leadership will come from the senior trio of 5-5 guard Aubrey Hardesty (3.2 ppg), 5-9 guard Alex Keifer and 5-1 Kacie Ray. Hit hard by graduation, the Lady

Waves will also be counting on production from a pair of sophomore guards, 5-8 Anna Belle Babb (2.6 ppg) and 5-4 Paige Medley (2.5 ppg), along with 5-4 junior guard Mattie Clanton (2 ppg).

2021-22 SCHEDULE HANCOCK COUNTY 11/30 Daviess County

6

12/2

at McLean County

12/4

Whitefield Academy

12/6

at Cannelton (Ind.)

6

12/7

at Cloverport

6

12/10 at McLean County 12/14 Owensboro 12/17 at Breckinridge County

7:30 11:30

6 7 5:30

12/20 at Ohio County (DQ Classic) 7 p.m. 12/21 vs. Hopkins County Central

at Ohio County

5

12/22 vs. Todd County Central

at Ohio County

12/28 at Springs Valley (Ind.)

5 1:30

12/29 vs. Ohio County

at Sportscenter

4:45

1/8

Evansville Harrison

1:30

1/10

Tell City (Ind.)

7:30

1/14

at Meade County

1/18

Butler County

7:30

1/20

at Fairdale

7:30

1/24

at Union County

7:30

1/25

Muhlenberg County

7:30

7

1/31 Cloverport

6

2/1 Apollo

7

2/4

Meade County

5:30

2/7

at Madisonville-North Hopkins 7:30

2/11

Breckinridge County

2/12

vs. Central Hardin

at Breckinridge County

2/15

at Whitesville Trinity

6

2/18

at Grayson County

6

5:30 12:30


Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

15

12TH DISTRICT BOYS

Trinity expects to have a big impact Raiders return wealth of experience BY JIM PICKENS

particularly when slashing to the basket, and his length and athleticism make him a force espite going only 6-17 and falling to defensively and when rebounding,” West said. “Landon is the best Grayson County in the first round of the 12th District Tournament in offensive rebounder I’ve ever coached. 2020-21, there are numerous reasons “Denver is a strong, skilled point for the Whitesville Trinity boys’ guard, and he is one of the best basketball team to be optimistic about on-ball defenders in the region.” the upcoming season. Other key returnees include 6-4, “I believe we will be a top-five 240-pound power for ward Bailey team in the 3rd Region; we have the Wright (7.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg), junior potential to be, anyway,” Raiders guard Nate Hernandez (8.3 ppg, 2.7 head coach Nathan West said. “We apg), 6-5 junior center Landon Smith are loaded at ever y position with (9 ppg, 5.7 rpg), junior swingman kids who have been in the varsity Gavin Howard, and junior defensive program since eighth grade. mainstay Nick Goetz. “We also had an excellent Top newcomers will be 5-9 junior summer, and several of our guys Nolan Mills, 6-2 senior Cole Hall, played with good AAU programs this 6-3 sophomore Nolan Huff, 5-10 year. “For us to be successful, we must sophomore Jacob Howard and 6-1 sophomore John Paul Payne, along have an attack mentality on offense and be the most physical team on the with freshmen Hayden Aull and Conner Hatfield. floor ever y night — we want to be relentless this year.” BUTLER COUNTY Leading the way for Trinity will Riddled by COVID-related be 6-foot-1 junior swingman Landon Huff, who averaged a team-best 16.1 cancellations for two long stretches last season, the Bears won only points and 7.9 rebounds per game five of 15 games but managed to last season; along with 5-10 junior guard Denver Dickens (11.9 ppg, 3.6 squeak by Edmonson County in the first round of the 12th District rpg). tournament, thus, advancing to the “Landon is a tremendous athlete, MESSENGER-INQUIRER

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3rd Region Tournament. Now, a more veteran Butler County team is expected to take a step for ward in 2021-22. The Bears return their leading scorer (12 ppg) and rebounder (7.6 rpg) in 6-4 senior power for ward Solomon Flener, and 6-1 senior guard Jagger Henderson is also back after averaging 11.5 points per game last season. Other key returnees include 5-9 senior guard Brody Hunt (8.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 81% free-throw percentage), 6-4 freshman for ward Lawson Rice (4.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 66% field goal percentage), 6-4 senior for ward Isaac Docker y (2.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and 5-4 senior guard Braden Docker y (2.2 ppg). Butler County will be looking to improve its shooting after hitting only 26% from 3-point range and 60% from the foul stripe last season.

EDMONSON COUNTY

The Wildcats will have a new look in more ways than one this season. Brad Johnson takes over for Michael McClintic as head coach, and the Edmonson County roster will be revamped after losing seven seniors from last year’s team that went 6-13. “Our district will be ver y tough,” Johnson said “Ever yone else in SEE TRINITY/PAGE 19

2021-22 SCHEDULE WHITESVILLE TRINITY 11/20 Daviess County 7:30 12/3 Calloway County 7:30 12/6 at Breckinridge County 7 12/7 Russellville 7 12/10 Butler County 7:45 12/11 Webster County 7:30 12/14 Apollo 7 12/17 Grace Baptist (Tenn.) Academy 7:30 12/20 vs. Ballard Memorial at St. Mary Christmas Classic noon 12/20 vs. Carlisle County at St. Mary Christmas Classic 4 1/3 Owensboro Catholic (All ‘A’ 3rd Region) 7 1/14 at Edmonson County 7:30 1/15 Crittenden County 4 1/17 at Foundation Christian Academy 7:30 1/18 Union County 7:30 1/20 Muhlenberg County 7:30 1/21 Grayson County 7:30 1/25 Meade County 8 1/28 at Butler County 7:45 1/29 Cloverport 2:30 2/4 Edmonson County 7 2/5 vs. St. Mary at Sportscenter 1 2/8 Ohio County 7 2/11 at Grayson County 7:30 2/15 Hancock County 7:30 2/17 at McLean County 7:30


16 BASKETBALL PREVIEW

Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

12TH DISTRICT GIRLS

Morris back to lead Lady Raiders

Versatile Aull another key for Trinity

of defenses, and we want to contest ever y shot.”

BUTLER COUNTY

The Lady Bears are coming off a successful season, finishing 9-7 BY JIM PICKENS and advancing to the 3rd Region MESSENGER-INQUIRER Tournament by defeating Whitesville Trinity in the opening round of the he Whitesville Trinity girls’ 12th District Tournament. basketball team won only Butler County returns one of the four of 18 games during the region’s most well-rounded players 2020-21 season, but the return of a in 5-9 senior center Taylin Clark, fully-healthy Cassady Morris has who averaged a double-double Lady Raider fans optimistic about the last season — 13.1 points and 10.1 upcoming season. rebounds per game. Morris, a senior who suffered Among the top returnees for the a knee injur y her sophomore Lady Bears are 5-9 junior wing Jenna season, returned to the hardwood in Phelps (6.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg), 5-7 senior Januar y and, despite not being 100%, point guard Gracie Cardwell (7 nonetheless averaged 15.6 points ppg, 5.9 rpg), 5-3 sophomore guard and 8.3 rebounds the rest of the way. Taylor Leach (5.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and “She is a great competitor and can slash to the basket,” Trinity coach Emily Hernandez said of Morris. “We expect her to come back strong this season.” WHITESVILLE TRINITY Also back is versatile junior guard 11/29 at Caldwell County 6 Josie Aull, who averaged 14.2 points 12/3 at Muhlenberg County 6 and 2.8 rebounds per game as a 12/4 at Calloway County 4:30 sophomore. 12/6 at Breckinridge County 5:30 “Josie shot 42% from the 3-point line, and she runs the floor for us,” 12/10 Butler County 6 Hernandez said. “She also loves to 12/1 at Meade County 7 compete and continues to improve in 12/20 Warren East 5 all aspects of her game.” 1/18 Todd County Central 1 Among others back for the Lady 1/10 at Owensboro 6 Raiders are senior Katherine Hibbitt (4.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg), freshman Kenzie 1/14 at Edmonson County 6 McDowell (5.4 ppg, 5 rpg), senior 1/15 Evansville Christian School 11 Hadley Hatfield (2.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg) 1/21 Grayson County 6 and senior Maddie Logsdon (1.2 ppg, 1/22 at Hopkins County Central 2 3.2 rpg). Also back are freshmen Madison 1/24 Caldwell County 6 McDaniel and Emily McDaniel, 1/28 Butler County 6 while top newcomers include 1/29 Cloverport 6 freshman Sarah Payne, Kaitlyn 2/4 Edmonson County 6 Wilson and seventh-grader Madison 2/7 at Ohio County 6 Wilson. “I am excited to have four seniors 2/11 at Grayson County 6 and a junior leading us this season,” 2/12 at McLean County 2 Hernandez said. “With 11 players, 2/14 at Daviess County 6 we are looking to play some uptempo 2/15 Hancock County 5 defense, and, hopefully, we have the 2/18 at Russellville 6 depth to do that. We’ll play a variety

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2021-22 SCHEDULE

5-5 senior guard Graci Leach (3.6 ppg, 5 rpg).

EDMONSON COUNTY

The Lady Cats slipped to 6-14 last season and will be looking to bounce back for veteran coach Bart Weaver. “Our goal is to always get better each day and compete for a district championship,” Weaver said. “Defense and rebounding will determine how successful we will be. “We have 10 players, and our depth will dictate style both offensively and defensively.” Top returnees include 5-10 junior for ward Lily Jane Vincent (8.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg), 5-5 senior guard Paige Wolfe (4.1 ppg) and 5-5 senior for ward Hallie Cassady (3 ppg, 3.8 rpg).

Newcomers include 5-9 junior for ward Emma White, 5-5 junior guard Callie Webb, 6-1 eighth-grade for ward Cariann Williams and 5-9 senior for ward Maham Shabaz.

GRAYSON COUNTY

The Lady Cougars went 13-10 and won the 12th District Tournament last season, and first-year head coach Todd Johnston will be hoping to perpetuate the program’s rich tradition as he replaces Ted Hill at the helm. “We are small and ver y inexperienced,” Johnston said. “We have 10 total players, and five of them are freshmen. We will bring up some eighth-graders along the way. SEE MORRIS/PAGE 19

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Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

DEVILS

got better depth,” Locher said, “and, of course, we want to score of f turnovers, let our defense ignite our of fense. FROM PAGE 8 “On of fense we’ll run some, but we’re also more confident in here this season with a lot of setting things up and letting our confidence, and Lizy has a pretty playmakers make plays in the good perimeter, shot and she halfcour t — take advantage of some finishes well around the basket — mismatches we’ll have. her ability to rebound will be key “After that, it just comes down to for us. rebounding, getting to the foul line “Unique is a playmaking point and making our free throws (OHS guard who is a great defender, Emma is a good shooter, and Olivia shot just 52% from the line last season). We have to take advantage is a good defender and rebounder.” of ever y scoring oppor tunity we Opponents can expect the Lady Devils to bring the heat, defensively. provide for ourselves, including making our foul shots.” “We’ll press a lot because we’ve

OHS FROM PAGE 7

be very successful this season and beyond.” Drake says he likes the OHS mix. “We have a lot of players here who can play the game at a high level, a lot of interchangeable parts that will make us tough to defend and will help make us tough at the defensive end,” Drake said. “This is a versatile group, and we have the potential to do a lot of things well. “We can be very good defensively as long as every single player buys into what we’re trying to do. With our depth, we should be able to have the

ACES FROM PAGE 9

Kentucky’s best, coming off a season in which he averaged 14.8 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game. Webb shot an impressive 58% from the floor, but made only 59% of his free-throw attempts. “Ji is an unbelievable athlete,” Riley said. “His body is starting to fill out, and he’s becoming a much stronger presence on the interior. His athleticism, his ability to play defense and block shots, and the fact that he can score inside and out makes him special and another matchup nightmare for opponents.” Also expected to be a significant scoring threat for the Aces this season will be 5-10 junior guard Parker Gray, who averaged 6.9 points per game and shot a sizzling 46% from 3-point range as a sophomore.

five players who are on the court going all-out the whole time they’re out there. “Ball pressure can be a real help in terms of rebounding and limiting shots for our opponents. We want to create turnovers and score at the other end. Our defense should be able to ignite our offense if things play out the way they should.” Being locked in will be essential, Drake believes. “We have to stay focused on what we’re trying to accomplish, where we want to go, and we need that focus every day in practice and every night we play a game,” Drake said. “If we become the team I think we’re capable of becoming, we’ll be competing for postseason championships.” “Parker can score the basketball,” Riley said. “He’s a quality player who really came on for us late in the season.” As did Tut Carrico, a tough-minded 5-10 junior guard who knocked down 5-of-7 shots from 3-point land a year ago. “Tut came up big for us in the postseason,” Riley said. “We need him to make shots and defend.” Catholic will also realy heavily on 5-9 sophomore guard Reid Clark, a hustling combo guard who will take pressure off Griffith at the point. Others in the mix include Jamison Wall, Wyatt Jenkins, Deuce Sims, Kaiser French and Jody Hobgood. “We would love to advance deep in the All ‘A’ Classic, get to the (KHSAA) 3rd Region Tournament and take our best shot,” said Riley, whose Aces have won a 3rd Region-best 12 regional tournament games since he arrived at Catholic in 2015-16. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do here so far, and I’m excited to see what we can do from here on out.”

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

17

CATHOLIC

ERA

FROM PAGE 10

FROM PAGE 6

“Rachel creates mismatch problems for most teams, Lexie is becoming more of a catch-and-shoot scorer who can hit the 3-pointer, and Lauren does a good job slashing through the paint to the rim — both Keelins have really improved their shooting.” Robertson is also going to get help from two freshmen — 5-9 guard-for ward Aubrey Randolph and Hancock County transfer guard Karmin Riley, who led the Lady Hornets in scoring (14.2 ppg) as an eighth-grader. “Aubrey is ver y fast, ver y athletic, and I look for her to be a great defensive player for us,” Robertson said. “Karmin is a great shooter and will help make us a better team.” Catholic appears ready to go. “I think we should be a regional contender, with what we have coming back and what we have coming in,” Robertson said. “We need to buy into the we-over-me mindset, play together, play for each other and play hard all the time — we do this, and we’ll be all right.”

“This is a solid group of players,” Haile said, “and some of them, like Zoey Beehn, need just a little more varsity experience to be able to help us a lot.” Lady Panther fans can expect a revved-up pace of play. “We’re going to play at a faster pace than they’ve played at in the past, and that’s where the added emphasis and focus on physical conditioning comes into play,” Haile said. “We’ll play in-your-face man-to-man defense, and we’d like to run some ball-screen offense — get the ball to our scorers at places on the floor where they can score. “The main this is for us to be competitive on ever y play, ever y day, in games and in practices — if we do that, I believe we have the talent to be where we want to be by the end of the season.”

2021

99 12/31/21


18 BASKETBALL PREVIEW

APOLLO

Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

FROM PAGE 3

Starns said, “and he can be a difference-maker for our basketball team.” Other potential major difference makers are a pair of 3-star transfers from Redemption Life Tabernacle Prep in Tulsa, Oklahoma — 6-7 junior forward Jimmy Cami Lohembe and 6-9 junior center center Wadang Wel — who are awaiting eligibility clearance from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA). “We are very excited about what they can bring to the program,” Starns said of Lohembe and Wel. “I’m very optimistic about the impact they can have within the structure of our basketball team.” Starns believes Apollo was on the right track last season before COVID issues canceled nine midseason games. “We were building some momentum and confidence when that happened,” Starns said, “and it was tough to get it back after that. It slowed our progress and momentum, and I believe if we hadn’t gone through that stretch, we would have had a chance to win more games. “Now, I just want all of our players to enjoy playing the game of basketball, give great effort every day in practice and play for the team — take pride in the name on the front of their jersey. “The player development here is coming along well, and we need for everyone to continue to trust the process that leads to success on the court — if we do that, we’re going to be in pretty good shape and ready to go.”

PANTHERS

“We lost some size off last year’s team, so he’s a welcome addition,” Hayden said of McCampbell. “Devonte is raw, a FROM PAGE 5 later bloomer, and he’s getting better and better each day. He’s an Burch, who led the team in both scoring (13.6 ppg) and rebounding extremely intelligent young man who is picking up all aspects of our (6.8 rpg) a year ago — shooting system very quickly — he could 52% from the field and 69% from be a game-changer for our team.” the foul stripe. In addition to Burch, juniors “We’re pretty excited about include Jack Payne, who is set the possibilities for Cole,” to start at a guard spot, and J.R. Hayden said. “He got more and McCain. Sophomore impact more confident as last season players could be guards Gage progressed, and I expect him to pick up where he left off. I believe Phelps and Houston Oberst, and he’ll have an even bigger year, and Hayden expects Jonathan Moss I believe he’s one of those players -- a highly-touted eighth-grader brought up from College View who is just going to keep getting Middle School -- to play a better and better.” significant varsity role. Also back are senior guards It all adds up to improved depth Max Dees (7.8 ppg), Isaiah Tomes (3.3 ppg) and Koki Kato (1.9 ppg). for DC. “We have 10 guys we can play, ‘Max is a blur, a player who is so and this is going to allow us to play competitive day in and day out in this program,” Hayden said. “He’s at a faster pace — this style of play excellent at getting in the lane and fits our personnel,” Hayden said. “We’re guard-oriented, but we penetrating to the basket. have players who will be effective “Isaiah is like a coach on the in the paint, as well. floor, a guy who makes great “Defensively, we’ll continue to decisions with the basketball, and Koki has a lot of experience at the mix up things, but we’ll definitely point, knows how to communicate speed things up to create more with his teammates.” pressure. Another senior who could make “We need to be fundamentally a major impact for the Panthers sound with our rebounding, attack is Owensboro transfer Devonte the glass and go after the basketball McCampbell, a 6-foot-5 forward. with great effort and consistency.”

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Friday, November 26, 2021 Messenger-Inquirer

TRINITY FROM PAGE 15

the district returned just about ever yone. We have well-coached, talented teams in our district, so we will have our hands full ever y night we play district games.” Top returnees include 6-foot senior point guard Trace Taylor and 6-3 junior swingman Braden Wall. Newcomers expected to make an impact will be a pair of 6-2 junior for wards, Tyler Anderson and Braxton Highbaugh. “We have kids new to the varsity floor and the crowds,” Johnson said, “but they feel like they were ver y competitive with the seniors we had last year, and they are ver y anxious to show what they can do.”

GRAYSON COUNTY

The Cougars enjoyed a solid 2020-21 season, going 13-9 and winning the 12th District Tournament title, and coach Travis Johnston’s team is back

for more. “Our outlook is the same as it is ever y year,” Johnston said. “We want to win the 12th District and we want to win the 3rd Region — those two goals never change. “The keys for us will be playing together as a unit, being a good defensive team and not playing careless with the basketball. Top returnees include 5-10 senior guard Keegan Sharp (14.6 ppg, 38% 3-point percentage, 87% free-throw percentage), 6-4 junior for ward River Blanton (12.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg), 5-10 senior guard Chandler McCrady (12.3 ppg, 4 rpg) and 6-2 senior swingman Hunter Tomes (7.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg). Key newcomers include 6-3 junior for ward Dillon Horn, 5-10 junior guard Brayden Childress, 6-2 junior for ward Nolan Hornbeck and 6-5 senior for ward Owen Bratcher. “We’ll go with a pressure man-to-man, defensively,” Johnston said, “and offensively we may play a little faster, play a few more guys, tr y to get up and down the floor a little more.”

EXPERIENCE

The Polar Express

BASKETBALL PREVIEW 2021

19

MORRIS

(8.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg), 5-6 sophomore guard Sydney Perkins (3.2 ppg), 5-10 senior for ward Raigan Cave (3.7 ppg, 3 rpg), and 5-4 junior guard Briley FROM PAGE 16 Renfrow. Key newcomers are 5-9 sophomore “We will have to control tempo, not for ward Allie Jennings, 5-6 freshman turn the ball over and execute our guard Isabel Blanton, 5-3 freshman of fense to get good shots.” guard Sutten VanMeter and 5-7 Grayson County’s top returnees include 5-6 senior guard Ar yssa Riggs freshman for ward Ella Nar vaez.

E-GALS

with some things defensively. “Gracie is a competitive player who FROM PAGE 4 wants to win — a good ball-handler who can “K’Asia is strong play the point and take and physical on the a little pressure of f inside, Jenna will play Amaya — and Emmie is a big role cleaning competitive, as well.” up on the glass and Payne said the E-Gals scoring second-chance must now adjust from points, and Jennifer is being the hunter to a mid-post player who being the hunted. is strong, but can also “We lost a lot of talent knock down a 15-footer,” of f last season’s team, Payne said. “We’ve got but we’re still going to more size than usual, have a target on our and it’s going backs as the defending to allow us to experiment champions — that’s just

the way it works,” said Payne, who should know more than most, having led Apollo to the Sweet 16 three consecutive seasons (1995-97). “Winning a regional championship is a ver y hard thing to do, but we want to get back to the same spot. “It helps to have two solid guards leading the way, and I believe we have the personnel to be versatile at both ends of the cour t — we’re excited to get star ted and see what we can put together.”

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TITLE

Messenger-Inquirer Friday, November 26, 2021

be a good leader — they’ve accepted this responsibility with open minds and have been putting it to use.” Returning seniors include 5-10 FROM PAGE 12 pure-shooting wing Addie Bullock (11 ppg, 3 rpg), 5-8 for ward Heaven junior guard Aven Proffitt. Vanover (8 ppg, 5.6 rg), 5-9 center “We have worked hard on Rain Embr y (9.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg), 5-5 our man-to-man defense, and guard Ella Gaddis (3.1 ppg), 5-9 we’ve worked on our offensive for ward Camden Sandefur and 5-1 fundamentals as well — looking guard Shelby Probus. to improve our halfcourt offense Two juniors will figure and being able to handle pressure” prominently — Skylar Gray and Harper said. “I feel like this team will grind out Camr yn Kennedy. “One of our keys will be to stay wins determination and the will to healthy,” Hill said. “We have had a win. We are looking to improve and lot of nagging injuries, and we are compete with the tops teams in our working diligently to figure out why region in the postseason.” — some days we’ve had six players practicing and six of seven players OHIO COUNTY sitting out with injuries. The Lady Eagles will be the most “Also, it will be vital for us to start veteran team in the district, featuring the season with some success. We six seniors. “All of them have game experience open with four road games, so our toughness will be tested early. We and have worked extremely hard will lean on our veteran players and in the offseason,” Hill said. “We’ve experience to get through those concentrated on giving them rough times.” leadership roles and what it takes to

MUSTANGS FROM PAGE 11

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defense, rebound on both ends and be extremely efficient on offense.”

MCLEAN COUNTY

The Cougars will feature five seniors, including 6-3 for ward Brady OHIO COUNTY Dame, who led the team in both The Eagles will be led by 6-foot scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding senior point guard Josh Manning, (8.7 rpg) last season, while shooting the team’s top returning scorer at 55% from the field and 72% from the 11.3 points per game, and 6-5 sopho- foul line. more for ward Elijah Decker (8.1 “He’s a dynamic player for us,” ppg, 4.7),who was limited by injur y L ynam said of Dame, also a star on to only seven games last season. the football team. “He’s athletic, “We look for Josh to be our leader and he has great size to go with his this season,” Paul Decker said. “He skills.” shoots the ball well, and he’s an Other seniors include 5-10 swingexcellent defender. man Br yce Durbin, 5-11 center “Elijah is athletic, shoots the ball James Haerle, 5-10 swingman Carter well and has worked hard to get Riley and 5-9 for ward Caleb Stein. stronger.” The Cougars’ deep junior class Other key returnees include 6-foot includes 6-2 center Clayton Brawner, junior guard Parker Culbertson (4.7 5-11 guard Jaxon Floyd (6.3 ppg), ppg) and 6-3 senior for ward Isaac 5-10 for ward Aidan Mason, 5-4 guard Southard (4.9 ppg). Noah Patrick, 5-6 guard Declan Top newcomers include 5-10 Scott, 5-8 for ward Will Taylor, 5-11 junior Cooper Allen, 6-3 junior Derek for ward Cruz Lee and 5-11 for ward Bradley, 6-3 freshman Carson KenEvan Ward. nedy, 6-9 sophomore Caleb Manning, Brodie Cline is a 5-11 sophomore 6-4 sophomore Bo Morse and 6-3 guard who will also be expected to sophomore Carter Young. make an impact. “We’re expecting another solid “We hope to continue to get better season,” L ynam said. “We’re in a as the season progresses,” Decker ver y tough district, but we’re looking said. “Our goal is to be playing our best basketball in late Februar y, and to have our third consecutive winto do so we must show toughness on ning season.”

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